Have you heard about the Serpentine Jewels Townhouse that recently opened in Greenwich? It’s the newest destination for custom fine jewelry in town, from accomplished jeweler and stylish mom of two, Ali Galgano.
Ali, a graduate gemologist and custom jewelry designer, lives in New Rochelle’s historic district in a 120-year-old home with her husband, Dan, and two sons, Julian (5) and Oliver (3). She founded Serpentine Jewels in 2016, and with one location in New York City, she decided to open her second here in downtown Greenwich, right off the Avenue. “Greenwich has always been my dream location for an atelier. I grew up in Rye, and coming to Greenwich with my mother to shop or go out to a restaurant was always a special occasion. Now, it’s an emerging fashion destination and centrally located for many of our Connecticut and Westchester clients,” notes Ali.
Serpentine Jewels is well-known in the fine jewelry world for its stunning bespoke pieces, and we’re thrilled to have Ali and her chic business in Greenwich. For this week’s Meet a Mom interview, we asked Ali about her one-on-one collaborative design process, her go-to everyday jewelry pieces, and more.
For examples of Serpentine Jewels’ work and sparkling inspiration, follow her on Instagram, @serpentine_jewels!
Congratulations on your recent opening in Greenwich! Can you please share a bit more about your business?
Serpentine Jewels is a destination for custom fine jewelry and ready-to-wear staples, rooted in high fashion. The idea of a custom (or “private”) jeweler isn’t a new one, but Serpentine has an edgier, more contemporary aesthetic than you’ll find at most traditional jewelry establishments. Much like the old school jewelers, we have deep relationships with the best diamond dealers and manufacturers in the world, which ensures that our clients get impeccably crafted pieces, but also at a great value.
At Serpentine, we wince at the thought of an impersonal transaction. Instead, our number one priority is cultivating long-lasting relationships with our clients. In order to get on the same design wavelength as my clients, I take the time to get to know them, their families and what their life looks like. By having a true understanding of who the client is, we are able to provide a level of personalized service that you won’t find shopping “over the counter.” We do a lot of what I call “jewelry box strategy” – helping clients develop a plan for what pieces they want as a part of a well-rounded jewelry collection. Over months, years and hopefully decades, we make that collection a reality.
What is the process like for your custom pieces?
Fine jewelry is a big investment, and for a piece that’s going to become a part of your visual identity, it’s nice to have a hand in making all the selections, whether you’re looking to source a rare-shaped diamond, create a modern setting for an old family stone, or simply design something that really feels like you. I always begin with education, ensuring that each client is able to make informed decisions. Once a budget is established, then comes stone selection and design ideation.
We do a lot of engagement ring resets, because people’s tastes evolve and a setting that once sparked joy can feel outdated 10-15 years later. We also do a lot of family heirloom resets. Many people inherit pieces from family members that have great inherent sentimental value, but simply aren’t their style. Using the stones from that piece to customize something new is both collaborative and meaningful. We have an in-house design director who does real-time sketching and 2D rendering when we meet with clients. From there, our team works to design, refine, and bring to life our client’s refreshed piece.
Were you always in the jewelry industry?
I’ve had a lifelong affinity for gemstones and jewelry. My mother started her career as a jewelry buyer at Neiman Marcus in Dallas and from a very young age, instilled in me the importance of jewelry and accessories in one’s wardrobe. After working in a corporate job for two years after college, I went back to gemology school to study jewelry design and get my graduate gemologist degree. This was in 2008, when the economy was in bad shape, so upon graduation, I went into fashion jewelry, starting and later selling an e-commerce business that focused on designer fashion jewelry.
In the years following, as my friends started to get engaged, I became their go-to for navigating the diamond industry and helping with their engagement ring purchases. I was struck by the extent to which people were regularly being taken advantage of, whether they were massively overpaying for a high-end product or receiving low quality diamonds and poorly crafted pieces. I got to know the best diamond and gemstone dealers and manufacturers used by high-end jewelry brands, and eventually decided to go out on my own. Over time, the business evolved from engagement rings into a comprehensive destination for all custom pieces as well as ready-to-wear staples that represent the Serpentine aesthetic.
What are your go-to, every day pieces from your collection? And special occasion ones?
Beyond my engagement ring and wedding band (both are colorful and non-traditional), I wear a snake ring and cigar band every day on each pointer finger. Snakes are an important totem in jewelry, symbolizing eternity. A cigar band is a cool-girl ring with a vintage feel – I love this chunkier style for adding texture and visual interest to a ring stack.
I often add novelty (and extra sparkle!) to my single-stone rings with a ring jacket, which is a signature Serpentine offering. It fits onto the original like a puzzle piece, which means it transforms a ring without needing to alter the setting. We’ve done quite a few ring jackets for our Greenwich clients, and it’s the ultimate conversation piece!
Similarly, I also love wearing my diamond studs with any number of jackets that we’ve designed to fit over them, elevating them and giving them a pop of big personality. We create behind-the-ear jackets that go with any existing earring or bespoke jackets for a pair of studs to slip into that looks like one new earring.
Our most popular studs are our “star studs,” earrings comprised of 5 kite shaped diamonds that fit together seamlessly due to their “invisible setting.” Lauren Dudley Stephens (another Greenwich mom!) was my first client to get these earrings, and many people have seen them on her and followed suit!
And, for special occasions, everyone should have a pair of pull-out-all-the-stops evening earrings. For me, it’s all about mixed shape earrings these days: pieces that incorporate emerald cuts, marquises, pears, rounds, etc.
What’s your typical mom uniform?
My weekday mom uniform needs to take me from school drop-off to Metro North to my NYC office to the Serpentine Townhouse in Greenwich. I err on the side of being overdressed – I prefer skirts and dresses to pants, and go for lots of saturated colors and bold prints. My style is feminine with an edge, which mimics many of my jewelry designs. As long as I have a great coat, shoe, bag, and jewelry (of course!), the rest of the outfit falls into place. My wardrobe is a mix of high and low; I might be found mixing Zara and Chanel with a Lele Sadoughi embellished headband, and of course my signature Serpentine Jewels! Other favorite designers include Zimmerman for their ultra-feminine dresses, Mira Mikati for her happy, colorful sweaters and coats, and La Double J for the maximalist prints. I shop pre-owned a lot (I love the hunt!) and a local resource for years has been Consigned Designed in Greenwich as well as Ebay and Etsy.
Weekend days are filled with kids’ activities and require me to get my hands dirty – these days call for a bit more comfort. While I still enjoy my color, I get a bit more practical with my looks, opting for a great Gucci sneaker in lieu of a sky high heel.
How can people make an appointment with you?
The Serpentine Townhouse doors are officially open! We are currently by appointment only and you can make an in-person or virtual consultation here. You can also send us a DM on Instagram @serpentine_jewels or email me personally at [email protected]. We’re still in the midst of putting all the pieces together for our dream space, but everything should be complete later this spring. We can’t wait to welcome new faces and old into the Townhouse!
Anything else you’d like to share?
We are so excited to be deepening Serpentine’s connection to the Greenwich community. Please don’t be a stranger! Reach out to explore the many ways in which we can work together. Even if you’re not ready to buy anything, please make an appointment to come in to fill out a client profile so that we know your finger sizes, metal preferences, what else you have in your collection, wish list, your significant other’s contact info (ha!), etc. We keep a file on every single one of our clients. If you need someone to talk through your jewelry box, we’re here for you!